You can’t spell “NPR” without “PR,” as in “disaster,” as in what that particular media organization had more than its share of in 2011. Former CEO Vivian Schiller resigned last March in the wake of the Juan Williams firing and James O’Keefe undercover video fiascos. Now that position has been filled by Gary Knell, a Sesame Street producer and CEO of Sesame Workshop, who’ll use his hands-on experience in cookie budgeting and grouch negotiations to move NPR past the bumpiest period in its history to a place where the air is sweet.
Knell, whose hiring was voted unanimously by NPR’s board of directors after a national search, told the AP he wants to “depoliticize” NPR:
“I think NPR needs to do a better job of telling a story,” Knell said. “It’s about journalism, it’s about news. It’s not about promoting one political agenda or another.”
Beyond the neutrality of his vision, what Knell brings to the table is a keen business sense, having single-handedly turned the Sesame Street brand into a hugely profitable global franchise. Mark my words: By this time next Christmas, NPR will be swimming in resources, all thanks to the wild popularity of the Tickle-Me Lakshmi dolls flying off toy store shelves.